WHAT IS PALEO?
Wikipedia provides this definition:
The Paleolithic diet, also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet, and hunter-gatherer diet, is a nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various human species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era – a period of about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. The diet consists mainly of grass-fed pasture-raised meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.
- Base your diet on real, fresh, natural, nutrient-dense foods like meats, eggs and poultry, fish (rich in protein and good quality essential fats) a variety of vegetables (rich in antioxidants and cancer-fighting substances), healthy fats (like olive oil, avocados and coconut), and a small amount of fruit and nuts.
- Avoid empty calories – high-calorie foods and drinks that offer little nutritional value. Eat foods that are natural - not processed. Avoid anything with grains (yes, even whole grains), legumes (that includes peanuts, hummus, edamame and any other products that contain soy), sugars and unhealthy fats.
- Steer clear of anything that comes in a box or fancy packaging and is labeled “fat free,” “low fat,” “low carb”, “heart healthy,” etc.
- Pay attention to where your food comes from. Whenever possible, buy meat that is grass-fed, local, organic and pastured, eggs that are organic and pastured, and produce that is locally and organically grown and in season.
WHY I EAT PALEO?
eEting this way does great things for my mood, energy levels, body composition, complexion, quality of sleep, digestive health, bowel function, athletic performance, etc. In short, i am quantifiably leaner, healthier and stronger when I eat paleo.
According to Dr. Michael Eades, author of The Protein Power Lifeplan, certain foods – grains, legumes, and dairy – cause gut irritation and systemic inflammation, which puts us at high risk for autoimmunity and a host of other problems. By adopting a paleo lifestyle, you’ll maximize your insulin sensitivity, improve gut function, minimize autoimmune triggers, and optimize nutritional healing.
YOU may have issues with certain foods and not even know it! The ONLY way to know for sure if you have an issue with certain foods is to completely remove them from your diet for at least 28 days. Then, if you choose, you can reintroduce them one-by-one and see if/how they affect you.
WHAT DOES 100% PALEO LOOK LIKE?
WHAT TO EAT…
- lean meats, fish, poultry and eggs (organic, grass-fed, locally farmed whenever possible)
- garden vegetables
- nuts and seeds
- little fruit
- little starch
- no added sugar
WHAT TO AVOID…
Many authors and bloggers advocate what a strict 100% paleo diet might look like and there are slight variations in each case. I believe the standards outlined below are a good place to start.
Avoid ALL potential allergens:
- ALL cereal grains and gluten and products made from them - This includes whole grains. that means no wheat, oats, rice, corn, amaranth, rye, barley, cous cous, spelt, etc. For our purposes corn is also considered a grain.
- ALL beans and legumes - This includes peanuts (sorry, no peanut butter) and hummus! Cashew or almond butter (no sugar added) is just as good.
- ALL forms of soy - This includes soybeans, edamame, tofu (meat substitute), soy sauce, and food additives (Read your labels! You'd be surprised by all the places you'll find soy)!
- ALL dairy products - tTis includes milk, yogurt, cheeses, and butter solids. Not even cream in your coffee. Canned coconut milk (not from a carton) is a delicious alternative!
- If you have serious inflammation issues like arthritis, you may want to consider avoiding nightshades as well.
- Avoid ALL pro-inflammatory foods – Starchy carbohydrates, grains, flours, and sugars as well as “trans fats” (partially hydrogenated oils)
- Avoid ALL sugars - This includes honey, agave, corn syrup, cane sugar, table sugar, etc. (read your labels! you'll find forms of sugar hidden anywhere from tomato sauce and salad dressing to beef jerky and salsa)! Check out "Other Names for Sugar That Appear On Labels"
- Avoid ALL processed foods - This includes "paleo" muffins, "paleo" cookies, "paleo" pancakes, etc. The goal is to eat REAL food as close to its natural state as possible...NOT to "paleo-ify" junk food!
- Avoid ALL foods containing preservatives, additives, chemicals and added sugars - (look out for “hidden" sources such as sauces, condiments, salad dressings, etc. Read your labels)
- Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners - This includes saccharin (Sweet N Low), acesulfame K, cyclamate, aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda)-except the sweet herb stevia.
- Avoid ALL forms of alcohol - beer, wine, and distilled spirits.
- Limit ALL sources of caffeine to one or two single 6-ounce cup of coffee (or 1 shot espresso) per day
Now, I realize that eliminating grains, processed foods, legumes, dairy products, and sugar from your diet will be difficult for some people. It will take careful planning and preparation. It may mean packing a cooler... or making special requests when dining out. I challenge you to test it, experiment. Try it for yourself for 28 days (or more) and see the difference it makes in your life. You can do anything for one month. Just think, you may be only 28 days away from feeling better than you ever have in your life! Worst case scenario: You don't notice a significant change in your energy levels, your body composition and your athletic performance; You gave up some of your favorite foods for 28 days; You go back to what you were doing before.
I know what you’re probably thinking, "But i don't feel bad. I really am fine." that's what I thought too. You may have issues with certain foods and not even know it! The ONLY way to know for sure if you have an issue with certain foods is to completely remove them from your diet for at least 28 days. Then, if you choose, you can reintroduce them one-by-one and see if/how they affect you. The only way to figure out what an optimal diet for you looks like is to EXPERIMENT AND OBSERVE.
Remember: If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, and keep eating the way you’ve been eating, you will continue to get the same results!